Independent University Newspaper
Copenhagen Business School

Popular searches:

Independent University Newspaper

Copenhagen Business School

New report: 1,194 university students have experienced unwanted sexual behavior

(Illustration: Shutterstock)

“It’s about time we do something about it,” says Rie Snekkerup, Head of the Program Administration at CBS, about a new report on unwanted sexual behavior towards students at Danish universities. Universities have been blind to the problem, argues the President of CBS Students. CBS is putting the finishing touches to its own report.

News |   30. Nov 2018

Anne Thora Lykkegaard


Offensive verbal comments of a sexual nature and unwanted physical touching. These are among the most common unwanted sexual behaviors that students at the eight Danish universities experience, according to a new report from Universities Denmark and The National Union of Danish Students.

In May 2018, 150,000 students from Denmark’s eight universities received an online questionnaire and were asked to complete it if they had experienced sexual harassment during their studies. A total of 1,194 students responded, and specified a total of 1,969 incidents.

“Unfortunately, I’m not surprised by the figures. They are in line with what we have seen in the media during the past year,” says Jeppe Ask Tofteskov, President of CBS Students.

According to the report, 50 percent of the respondents have been sexually offended by a fellow student, and 11 percent of the offenders were a first-year counselor and/or student tutor.

Rie Snekkerup, Head of the Program Administration at CBS, says in a statement on CBS’ intranet:

“This survey describes shocking experiences at Danish universities. We are taking this very seriously. I am deeply affected by the stories I have read, and it is completely unacceptable that this kind of behavior is taking place at all,” she says and goes into more detail by phone:

“Unfortunately, I’m not surprised either. Universities are reflecting the surrounding society and sexual harassment obviously also happens here, and it’s about time that we do something about it.”

The report from Universities Denmark and The National Union of Danish Students doesn’t say anything specific about the individual universities; however, CBS is currently in the final stages of completing its own internal report on the issue.

But why haven’t the individual universities, including CBS, done an internal survey on these issues among students earlier?

“I think the universities have been blind to the fact that they have a responsibility in this too. It’s not been viewed at as a ‘university-problem.’ It was the same when we started to discuss the students’ stress levels, and the universities realized that they were responsible for creating a healthy study environment too,” says Jeppe Ask Tofteskov.

The challenges of the first year  

For 41 percent of the respondents, the incidents took place during the first year of their Bachelor’s, while 13 percent of the respondents said the incident took place at graduate level.

“This shows that it is crucial to get a good start to one’s studies and build up a healthy culture among the students. And that we talk openly about how we want to engage with one another,” says Jeppe Ask Tofteskov.

Rie Snekkerup points out that the students on their first year are more immature and insecure about themselves and their surroundings, which makes them more vulnerable, and then there are more parties especially during semester start.

“The report indicates that social events and alcohol increases the risk of incidents,” she says.

During study start this year, CBS launched a new campaign with the exact purpose of starting a dialogue among students about inappropriate behavior. However, more needs to be done, admits Rie Snekkerup.

“We will continue to work on improving intro week. For example, by making a boot camp for the tutors and addressing transgressing behavior and being more stringent when it comes to approving activities during intro week,” she says and continues:

“Furthermore, we want to include questions about offensive behavior in the study environment survey. Something we haven’t done before. And lastly, we want to be better at pointing out where students can get help.”

A twisted balance of power  

Although, Jeppe Ask Tofteskov is not surprised by the figures, something stood out in the report.

For 12 percent of the respondents, unwanted sexual behavior involved university employees. An anonymous respondent (a student assistant) describes several incidents with a colleague (a professor) whose offensive sexual comments made the respondent feel uncomfortable due to the balance of power between the two. In two cases, other colleagues interfered; however, they didn’t say anything to the professor, but told the respondent to back out.

This was new to Jeppe Ask Tofteskov.

“The general conversation has mainly been about unwanted sexual behavior between students. The incidents between colleagues, of which one of them is a student, is not something we have discussed much,” he says.

What strikes him about the case described in the report is that no one seems to react towards the professor’s behavior. And this needs to change.

“If we witness incidents that are inappropriate, we have to react. We need to take care of each other in this way. It’s a culture we have to change,” he says.

Rie Snekkerup says it is very critical when sexual harassment comes with a power relation.

“If you are a tutor or a professor you simply have to be much more aware of what you say or do because the students are dependent upon you.,” she says.

Therefore, she is working on initiatives in relation to ‘Enjoy Campus Life’ campaign that ran during semester start, aimed at students and staff. The purpose will be to draw attention to the issues of offensive behavior also when power relations are at stake.

“You can introduce rules; but this is also a cultural problem, we need to be open and discuss when and where for instance comments are ok or not. And we need to create a space where it is ok to say that comment was out of line,” says Rie Snekkerup and continues:

“CBS is a community and we all have a responsibility to create a good campus life which is inclusive and free of offensive behavior”


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

New report: 1,194 university students have experienced unwanted sexual behaviorby

  • News

    Staff layoffs: What happens if you’re fired

    The clock is ticking. On Thursday morning (5 October), CBS employees will know if they are up for dismissal or not. But what will happen on the day? What emotional stages are you likely to encounter? And who will be there to pick you up when you are feeling the blow of being laid off? CBS WIRE has talked to HR and the consulting agency Actief Hartmanns to provide you with answers.

  • News

    Network, network, network – CBS graduates advise on getting your first job

    There are many approaches to finding your first job. Three recent CBS graduates talk about how they landed theirs. Their approaches were quite different, yet they all highlight networking as a key element.

  • News

    A-Z of the dismissals

    In these final days of September, the fate of a number of CBS employees is being decided. The final amount of money saved on salaries via voluntary severance agreements (aka redundancy packages, Ed.) and senior agreements will be known.  After this, the actual number of employees up for dismissal will be decided by management – and then the individuals will be selected.

  • News

    Layoffs break the crucial trust between organisation and employee

    CBS is laying off a number of employees soon, which will affect our university in different ways. When employees are fired without having done anything wrong, it shatters the trust between the organisation and employees, while also taking a toll on productivity, according to a CBS expert. Layoffs also affect the ‘survivors’, who are forced to adapt to a changed workload and the loss of cherished colleagues.

  • News

    Here to help – at the touch of a button and at Campus Desk

    Exam anxiety? Lost student card? I’ve wedged my car between a Fiat 500 and a lamp post, can you help? You never know what you’ll be asked next. But that’s just how the Campus Desk team like it. And if they can’t fix your problem, they’ll know someone who can. CBS WIRE asked the team about the whole range of topics they advice on every day.

  • Gif of the week
  • News

    CBS Quiz Time: Unraveling the success story

    A successful university environment such as CBS is often associated with academic pursuits, but campus life extends far beyond the classroom. At CBS Quiz Time, a student society motivated by creative thinking and social engagement, students join in a refreshing range of creativity, excitement, and social interaction. CBS WIRE talked to Celine Møller-Andersen to find out about the society’s vision, strategies and the factors that are driving its rapid expansion.

  • News

    Why so sudden? The CBS financial crisis explained

    Employees and union representatives have posed many questions in the wake of the 17 August announcement of a firing round. In this interview, University Director Arnold Boon explains how Senior Management has been working with the budget and a change of financial strategy since the fall of 2022, and why layoffs are now necessary.

Follow CBS students studying abroad

CBS WIRE collaborates with

Stay connected